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New AHRQ Consumer Tool Puts Quit Plan in a Smoker's Hands

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Press Release Date: November 18, 2004

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today released a new consumer tool for Palm™ and Pocket PCs to help smokers who want to quit. Quit Smoking: Consumer Interactive Tool, is drawn from the evidence-based recommendations of the Public Health Service guideline, Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, and helps smokers set up a program tailored to their individual needs.

"Tobacco addiction is one of the greatest threats to the health of the public and our nation, with over 46 million smokers in the U.S.," said Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services. "As part of the Department's recognition of the Great American Smokeout, this program provides a quick and easy way for tobacco users to take a more hands-on approach to quitting smoking."

Handheld devices are moving beyond the basic applications of personal information management. As a result, more patients and consumers are tapping into specialized health-related information content on the Web via wireless units every day. In fact, more than 15 million units have been sold this year alone.

To use the application, the smoker plugs in the date he or she wants to quit, and the program counts back 5 days leading up to the quit date. It then offers a 5-day countdown of daily practical steps to help the smoker quit, such as identifying reasons to quit smoking; talking to the doctor about medications, including the nicotine patch or gum; and getting support from family and friends.

Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits, reducing risks for diseases caused by smoking and improving health in general. Soon after a smoker quits, his or her body experiences immediate health improvements that can last a lifetime.

"Consumers should have access to the tools and information they need to make good choices about their health," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "We must continue to use the power of information technology to make those tools readily available when they need them."

The AHRQ Palm™ and Pocket PC applications are available as a free download at For more information about quitting smoking, go to or call the new toll-free National Quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1855 or (301) 427-1857.


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